Michigan State Police Gladstone Post Commander Lt. William Smith Arrested And Suspended After Drunken Wreck

July 11, 2012

SAULT STE. MARIE, MICHIGAN — Authorities in the Upper Peninsula are investigating a crash that led to the arrest of a state police post commander on a drunken driving charge.

The Daily News in Iron Mountain says Lt. William Smith was arrested Saturday by police in Sault Ste. Marie for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

Chippewa County Prosecutor Brian Peppler says the arrest followed a traffic accident in a personal vehicle.

Peppler says no charges have been authorized pending results of a blood test.

The 43-year-old Smith was appointed commander of the Gladstone post in April. He has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

Peppler has worked with Smith in the past and says he’s asked state Attorney General Bill Schuette to appoint an outside prosecutor for the case.

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Dumbass Waterford Michigan Police Officer Annette Miller Crashed Into Tree While Chasing Motorcycle In SUV Without Using Emergency Lights Or Siren

June 3, 2012

WATERFORD, MICHIGAN – After a Waterford police officer suffered severe injuries in a crash May 23, discussion arose online about the officer not using her vehicle’s lights and sirens while attempting to catch a speeding motorcyclist.

“She could have taken action to alert other drivers in the area that she was in pursuit,” said one commenter.

Coreen Darnall noted “officers need to recognize (during pursuits) that it’s not always possible to see/hear oncoming emergency vehicles, even with sirens.”

Officer Annette Miller has been unable to speak after suffering severe injuries during an accident on Elizabeth Lake Road near Huron Street in Waterford.

During the incident, a 20-year-old man driving a Volkswagen turned in front of Miller’s police vehicle. When she swerved to avoid the car, she crashed into a tree. Emergency personnel had to extricate her from the police SUV, and she has been hospitalized since. The Volkswagen driver was hospitalized for precautionary reasons, police said.

Waterford Police Chief Daniel McCaw said Miller’s lights and siren not being activated was “typical for police officers.”

“If they observe a violation, lots of times they’ll catch up to the vehicle and when they get behind the vehicle, they’ll go ahead and activate the lights and siren.”

McCaw said that Miller was not yet in pursuit mode when she was traveling along Elizabeth Lake Road.

“She was trying to catch up to the (motorcyclist),” he said.

He said police often do not use lights and sirens. For example, he said, when an officer is responding to a burglary call, “you would go in with no lights or sirens.”

McCaw said pursuit policy has changed in police departments over time.

“Years ago police would chase for everything,” he said. “You have to weigh public safety so you don’t see the pursuits as you did years ago.”

In the May 23 crash, many commenters noted that police can’t just abandon the idea of chasing a suspect.

“If you don’t chase them, then we let crime win,” said Pat Bernieri. “Let the police do their jobs as they see fit.”

‘As long as bad guys flee, cops will pursue’

While Waterford stresses Miller was not in pursuit, accounts over the years indicate pursuits come with serious risks. About 35 to 40 percent of all police chases end in crashes, Geoffrey Alpert, a professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina said in a USA Today story in April 2010. Alpert noted that the nation’s 17,000 police departments are moving toward more restrictive chase policies “because chasing someone for a traffic offense or a property offense is not worth the risk of people’s lives and well-being.”

Police pursuit records provide frightening statistics, according to a report presented online by the FBI in 2010.

“First, the majority of police pursuits involve a stop for a traffic violation. Second, one person dies every day as a result of a police pursuit. On average, from 1994 through 1998, one law enforcement officer was killed every 11 weeks in a pursuit, and 1 percent of all U.S. law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty lost their lives in vehicle pursuits.

Innocent third parties who just happened to be in the way constitute 42 percent of persons killed or injured in police pursuits. Further, 1 out of every 100 high-speed pursuits results in a fatality.

Most area police agencies contacted indicated that officers are to use lights and sirens during the pursuit.

Royal Oak Chief Corey O’Donohue said the department has a lengthy pursuit policy.

“Yes, we use lights and sirens,” he said.

After every pursuit, the results are “evaluated to make sure officers follow policy and use sound judgment,” he said.

Officers in pursuit must contact dispatchers. “The pursuit can be overruled by the shift supervisor,” he said.

Victor Lauria, Novi’s assistant police chief, stressed the main concern during pursuits is the safety of innocent residents, police and the fleeing suspect. “There is significant risk,” he said of pursuits.

The police officer is “constantly evaluating the situation. Lights and sirens must be activated,” he said. “They serve two functions — they alert the suspect to stop and yield, and they alert others there is an emergency vehicle on the road.”

Speeding motorcyclist ‘paced’

An example of a high-speed pursuit of a motorcyclist without lights and siren on occurred in Washington in 2010, according to a story by the News Tribune in Tacoma. A Washington State trooper spotted a motorcycle speeding and passing vehicles.

The officer drove onto the highway and paced the motorcyclist going 80 to 90 mph in a 60 mph zone.

“Pacing” is when a police officer follows a driver, checking speeds by looking at his own speedometer.

In the Washington case, the biker sped up to 100 mph. The trooper then activated his emergency lights and sirens. Eventually the motorcyclist lost control of his vehicle and laid the bike down. Arrested and charged with eluding a police vehicle and stealing the motorcycle, the biker said he fled because he was scared.

Terrence Jungel, executive director of the Michigan Sheriffs Association, said police have always fielded complaints about high-speed pursuits.

“There were probably complaints about the (Old West’s) posse chasing bank robbers. As long as bad guys flee, cops will pursue,” Jungel said.

Law enforcement officials face liability if pursuits end badly.

Pursuits generally “put cops in a bad position,” he said.

“They have to try and second-guess what is going on. They have little information on why a driver is fleeing — it could be to avoid apprehension or to hide the fruits of a crime.”

As for using lights and sirens, he said “it depends. You don’t have cookie-cutter crimes. Police have to make split-second decisions that later end up in courts. Each situation dictates an appropriate response.”

Pursuit policies could differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, Jungel said.

“It depends if you are in cities or in a rural area,” he said.

Police don’t graduate without pursuit training.

Jungel stressed that pursuits are dangerous situations.

“We don’t like to face a man with a loaded gun and we don’t like to be in high-speed pursuits,” he said. “There are so many variables. The higher speeds mean greater liability.”

The Police Studies Council calls pursuits by police a “relatively dangerous, inexact undertaking.”

West Bloomfield Township Police Chief Michael Patton — whose department’s pursuit policy is 20 pages long — said pursuits are “a fact of life” in law enforcement, he said.

Patton worked with Officer Miller in the 1980s and said he is concerned about her recuperation.

Common sense and reasonableness apply during pursuits, he said.

“It’s a balancing act of risk versus benefit,” he said.

Patton has trained officers in pursuits. “We tell officers not to get caught up in the emotion of it,” he said. “That’s why supervisors step in (and are apprised during all pursuits).”

Police have authority of close the distance between a fleeing suspect and themselves, he said.

“Generally there is no such thing as a silent run pursuit,” Patton said.

The written pursuit policy for Michigan State Police outlines how troopers “shall weigh the hazard presented by the violator against that created by a vehicle pursuit. It is better to either delay the arrest or abandon the pursuit than to needlessly injure or kill innocent people, including our own members.”

When a pursuit starts, the officer “shall activate and continuously operate the emergency lights, siren and in-car video recorder on their vehicles until the pursuit has terminated or is abandoned,” according to the policy wording forwarded by spokeswoman Tiffany Brown.

Most departments contacted were reluctant to hand over their pursuit policies, saying they did not want everyone to know what tactics were employed by police. The City of Memphis, Tenn. posts its entire pursuit policy online. During a crime in progress or vehicle pursuits, classified as emergency calls, “officers will respond in emergency mode with both emergency lights and siren being used.”

USA Today reported that, according to professor Alpert, restrictive chase policies save lives. He stated in a National Institute of Justice research paper that police chases in Miami-Dade County dropped from 279 a year to 51 after the department implemented a more restrictive policy.

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Two Small Planes In Mid-Air Crash Over Virginia Were Registered To FAA And NTSB Employees

May 29, 2012

VIRGINIA – Investigators learned that the planes involved in Monday afternoon’s mid-air crash in Fauquier County were registered to employees of the FAA and the NTSB.

Two people died after two small planes collided about 4 p.m. and then crashed to the ground about a mile apart from each other in southern Fauquier County.

A Beechcraft BE-35 registered to an NTSB employee caught fire when it hit the ground. The pilot and passenger died, but it’s unknown if either was the owner of the plane. They have not been identified.

The pilot and owner of the second plane — a 1965 Piper PA-28 — was an FAA employee identified as 70-year-old Thomas R. Provin, of Broad Run, Va. He was taken to Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Va. He remained hospitalized Tuesday but there’s no word on his condition.

Because the planes were owned and/or operated by FAA and NTSB employees, NTSB, after consulting with the FAA, requested the Transportation Safety Board of Canada investigate the crash.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation, but police received several calls from people in the area at the time of the crash.

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Detroit Lakes Minnesota Firemen Turn Staged Demonstration Crash Scene Into A Real One – Sending 6 People To The Hospital

May 5, 2012

DETROIT LAKES, MINNESOTA – A bizarre incident in Detroit Lakes this morning where a mock crash almost turned into a real life tragedy.

The mock crash was staged right here along Madison Avenue near the High School, you can see benches are still in place where the nearly 400 students were standing. An unmanned fire truck that officials believe was in neutral with the park break on began sliding and rolled about 30-feet into the mock scene, sending six people to the hospital.

These are pictures from the scene moments after the accident. Detroit Lakes police say their were two cars staged with both student and community volunteers.

The fire truck hit the first car at a low rate of speed less than 5-miles-per-hour, but the 36-thousand-pound vehicle pushed both cars about 15-feet. Two students, an EMS worker, two community volunteers and a state trooper were all injured in the incident.

From what we gathered, everyone has been treated and released from the hospital, calling it just bumps and bruises. Tonight at six, hear first hand from students who saw the terrifying accident.

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15 Year Old Texas Boy Charged With 9 Counts Of Murder After Crashing Van With Load Of Illegal Immigrants – Hidalgo County DA Rene Guerra Wants Him Tried As An Adult

April 17, 2012

PALMVIEW, TEXAS - A 15-year-old South Texas boy charged with nine counts of murder after he crashed a minivan packed with illegal immigrants, killing nine of them, cried and expressed remorse before a judge Monday, police said.

The boy, who is not being identified because he is a juvenile, appeared at a probable cause hearing at a juvenile detention facility. He was also charged with 17 counts of smuggling of a person causing serious bodily injury or death, and one count of evading.

Border Patrol agents pulled over the van last Tuesday night about 10 miles west of McAllen. As it stopped, one person jumped from the vehicle and ran. When agents pursued him the van sped off. It crashed just a few blocks away scattering a parking lot with bodies, backpacks and water bottles. The driver escaped, but was arrested two days later at his home.

Palmview Police worked with agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations to arrest six people suspected of involvement in the smuggling operation on charges related to harboring illegal immigrants. At least four of the six crash survivors were detained as material witnesses.

Through interviews with them they found the teen driver, said Palmview police Chief Chris Barrera.

“He wanted to come clean so he came out and gave us a statement,” Barrera said. “He explained to us exactly what had happened, what he had done.”

Palmview Detective Saul Uvalle, who attended the probable cause hearing, said the teen told the judge that if he didn’t drive the van they were going to kill his family. Uvalle said the teen didn’t say who “they” were. “He was very remorseful of what happened,” Uvalle said.

State prosecutors can pursue the felony murder charges because the deaths occurred during the commission of a felony, in this case evading Border Patrol. A judge will eventually decide whether the boy will be tried as an adult.

Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra said he planned to petition a judge to certify the boy so he can be tried as an adult.

“I’m going to be as aggressive as the law allows,” Guerra said.

According to a federal complaint filed last week, two suspects admitted after their arrests to participating in the smuggling of the illegal immigrants involved in the crash and those in the stash house. One said he was offered $40 per passenger to drive the van, but refused and instead put the 15-year-old in contact with the organization, the complaint says.

Guerra said that the adults involved must have understood the risks in getting a teenager with no driver’s license to undertake the job.

“When you have that kind of a situation where some people say that’s an accident, no, I’m sorry that’s not an ordinary accident,” Guerra said. “These are things that they know. That they can anticipate.”

At a children’s daycare center near where the crumpled van came to rest, passersby have created an impromptu memorial with dozens of candles, notes and religious icons. Lucy Moreno, 33, assistant director of the daycare, said Monday that the murder charges seemed too much for a juvenile.

As the parent of a 14-year-old, Moreno said she thought the boy “doesn’t have the maturity to think about how he was putting lives at risk.”

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Navy Jet Crashes Into Virginia Beach Residential Neighborhood Burning Apartment Buildings

April 6, 2012

VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA – Two Navy pilots ejected from a fighter jet Friday, sending the unmanned plane careening into a Virginia Beach apartment complex and tearing the roof off at least one building that was engulfed in flames, officials said.

Local officials reported three injuries, including the pilot, but no deaths. The Navy said both people on board the jet ejected before it crashed around noon and were being taken to hospitals for observation.

Live video from WAVY-TV showed dozens of police cars, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles filling the densely populated neighborhood where the plane crashed. Yellow fire hoses snaked through side streets as fire crews poured water on the charred rooftops of brick apartment houses. Another fire crew doused the plane’s wreckage with streams of white foam to try and contain any potential spill of jet fuel.

Four buildings had massive damage, showing gaping holes with fire-blackened edges, while a few yards away, rows of homes were largely untouched.

As authorities closed roads in the neighborhood, traffic backed up on side streets and on nearby Interstate 264, with slow-moving columns of vehicles bringing drivers to a virtual standstill early Friday afternoon.

The crash happened in the Hampton Roads area, which has a large concentration of military bases, including Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world. Naval Air Station Oceana, where the F/A-18D that crashed was assigned, is located in Virginia Beach.

Edna Lukens, an apartment employee across the street from the crash, said she saw three apartment buildings on fire.

“We heard this loud noise and we looked out the window and there was smoke all in the sky. Then the flames started going up in the sky, and then the apartment building just started burning and the police was called and everybody came out,” Lukens said.

Lukens said a senior citizens’ community was across the street, and people were trying to help them evacuate.

The Daily Press of Portsmouth reported that Sean Pepe of Norfolk and Kenny Carver of Hampton saw the jet as they were driving on Interstate 264. They said it appeared to be “floating” in the air before it went down behind trees.

“It was odd, but we didn’t think anything of it,” Pepe told the newspaper. “We thought it was doing maneuvers. We were watching the plane but didn’t see the impact. We saw it go down and there was a `boom.’ Then there was black smoke everywhere.”

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell issued this statement Friday:

“We are taking all possible steps at the state level to provide immediate resources and assistance to those impacted by the crash of an F-18 fighter jet in Virginia Beach. In the past half hour I have spoken to Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms several times and informed him that all Commonwealth resources are available to him as the community responds to this breaking situation. We are monitoring events carefully as they unfold and State Police resources are now on the scene. Our fervent prayer is that no one was injured or killed in this accident.”

Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., says the first responders “are admirably addressing the situation on the ground,” according to a release.

“Our prayers are with our entire Hampton Roads and military communities right now,” he says. “I have spoken with Governor McDonnell, Mayor Sessoms, and leadership at Naval Air Station Oceana, and my office and I stand ready to assist as appropriate.”

The same model of fighter jet, an F/A-18D, crashed in December 2008 while returning to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar after a training exercise in a San Diego neighborhood. That crash killed four members of one family and destroyed two homes.

The Marine Corps said the jet suffered a mechanical failure, but a series of bad decisions led the pilot — a student — to bypass a potentially safe landing at a coastal Navy base after his engine failed. The pilot ejected and told investigators he screamed in horror as he watched the jet plow into the neighborhood, incinerating two homes. A federal judge ordered the U.S. government to pay the family nearly $18 million in restitution.

An F-18, a supersonic jet used widely in the Marine Corps and Navy and by the stunt-flying Blue Angels, costs about $57 million. An F-18 crashed at Miramar — known as the setting for the movie “Top Gun” — in November 2006, and that pilot also ejected safely.

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Buffalo New York Police Hight-Speed Chase On City Streets Included Collision With Church Bus That Sent Its Innocent Driver To Hospital

April 4, 2012

BUFFALO, NEW YORK – A Buffalo police officer and a church van driver were taken to Erie County Medical Center following a high-speed car chase that ended when a 15-year-old driver crashed a car into a police cruiser near Manhattan and Shawnee avenues just after noon today.

Police are considering stolen car and other charges against the teen who was taken into custody.

The police officer was listed in stable condition with multiple injuries. The church van driver was being treated at the hospital. Police would not release the names of the two injured or the suspect.

The incident began with a call about a suspicious vehicle moving at a high rate of speed in the Main Street-Depew area late this morning.

Officers stopped the vehicle but the driver sped away and within minutes clipped a church van near Bennett Village Terrace, injuring the van driver.

Minutes later, the chase came to a jarring halt on Manhattan near Shawnee Avenue when the teen driver crashed into a police car, injuring an officer but apparently coming away uninjured himself.

Police spokesmen said officers believe the car was stolen and used in a recent felony crime, which remains part of the investigation.

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Veteran Hamilton County Tennessee Deputy Sheriff Thomas Fulmer Arrested After Drunken Wreck

March 6, 2012

HAMILTON COUNTY, TENNESSEE – A Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office deputy is suspended with pay pending his first court appearance after he was arrested on a DUI charge by the Tennessee Highway Patrol on Friday, according to booking reports.

Deputy Thomas Fulmer, 47, who has been with the department nearly 10 years, was off duty when the incident occurred.

Fulmer was driving a 2006 Ford F-250 east on Walnut Road when he was unable to stay on the road while negotiating a curve, according the report.

He veered off to the right side of the road way and into a yard before cutting back across the road way and striking a mailbox. Fulmer lost control of the vehicle and went back across the road where the truck entered a ditch, overturned and struck a street sign. The pickup stopped on north side of Walnut Road, according to the report.

Fulmer sustained minor injuries from the crash and refused treatment on scene.

If there is enough evidence presented at his first appearance, he will be placed on leave without pay pending the outcome of his trial.

If convicted, it could mean Fulmer will lose his job.

“Generally that’s not compatible with his job as a police officer. … It’s difficult. As officers we are held to a higher standard,” said Sheriff Jim Hammond.

Fulmer is scheduled to appear in court March 19 before General Sessions Court Judge Ronald Durby.

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Fayetteville North Carolina Police Officer Matthew U’ren Arrested And Suspended After Drunken Wreck/Hit And Run

January 6, 2012

FAYETTEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA – A Fayetteville police officer was arrested early Friday and charged with driving while impaired, misdemeanor hit and run and reckless driving after he wrecked his car and failed to contact police, officials with the Fayetteville Police Department said.

Investigators say Matthew U’ren, 25, crashed his personal car, a 2004 Chevrolet Impala, into a guardrail at the end of Camden Road, near Whitfield Street, around 11 p.m. Thursday.

U’ren called a private towing company and had his vehicle removed from the scene. Neither he nor the towing company notified a law enforcement agency, investigators said.

“They have 24 hours to notify the city that they have towed a vehicle inside our jurisdiction,” said Sgt. Todd Joyce, who declined to release the name of the towing company.

Police say U’ren called a friend to drive him home and that person called police. Officers arrested U’ren at his home and took him to the Cumberland County Detention Center, where he registered a blood-alcohol content of 0.12. Under North Carolina law, a driver is considered impaired with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08.

He was released on a promise to appear in court.

U’ren has been employed with the Fayetteville Police Department for a year and a half and was assigned to the Cross Creek district. He has been placed on administrative leave, without pay, pending an internal investigation.

“We’re not going to turn our heads away from that, just because he’s an officer here at the department,” Joyce said. “He’s held in a higher standard, you know. We’re going to treat the matter just as we would had it been any other citizen involved in an accident.”

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Alabama State Police Trooper James Heath Moss Indicted After 120 MPH Wreck In Patrol Car That Killed Innocent Couple

November 21, 2011

ATHENS, ALABAMA – An Alabama state trooper has been formally charged with two counts of criminally negligent homicide in connection with a wreck that killed an Athens couple in April.

A Limestone County grand jury last week indicted James Heath Moss, 30, of Athens. Moss turned himself in on the indictment warrants Sunday, then immediately posted a $10,000 bail.

The trooper was heading to another accident to provide traffic control on the morning of April 25 when he rear-ended the Mitsubishi Mirage in which Jamie Lee Gossett, 31, and his wife, Sarah Rene Gossett, 38, were riding. Their vehicle was pushed into a field and caught fire. They had been on their way to Tanner High School to pickup their daughters when the accident occurred.

Moss was driving at speeds of up to 120 mph in the seconds before the crash, based on information from the car’s information module, said attorney Derek Simpson of the Huntsville law firm Warren & Simpson, who has filed a civil suit on behalf of the administrator of the Jamie Gossett estate.

Moss had continued to work in the office of the state trooper post in Decatur in the months following the accident.

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Orlando Florida Police Officer Crashes Into Seminole County Sheriff’s Office Motorcylce While Escorting Obama

October 12, 2011

SEMINOLE COUNTY, FLORIDA – Two law enforcement officers on motorcycles collided Tuesday while accompanying President Barack Obama.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the president’s motorcade was travelling east on Lake Mary Blvd. when an Orlando Police Department motor unit ran into the rear of a Seminole County Sheriff’s Office motor unit.

Both officers were ejected from their vehicles and suffered minor injuries.

President Obama is in Florida raising money for his 2012 re-election campaign.

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$750,000 Lawsuit Charges FBI And Justice Department With Hiding Public Documents After Destruction Of Ferrari F50 – FBI Agent Frederick C Kingston And Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson Crashed During Joyride

February 24, 2011

ROSEMONT, PENNSYLVANIA – The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice have landed themselves in hot water over the destruction of a Ferrari F50. According to The Detroit News, the vehicle was reported stolen from a dealership in Rosemont, Pennsylvania in 2003, and the dealer made and insurance claim for the sum of $750,000 at that time. Michigan-based Motors Insurance Corp. shelled out the cash, and in August 2008, the FBI recovered the vehicle in Kentucky. At that time, the FBI stored the vehicle while waiting to prosecute the thief, at least until someone at the bureau decided to use it for a little local arbor work.

The Ferrari F50 lost control and struck a tree with an FBI special agent behind the wheel in May of 2009, and Motors Insurance Corp. subsequently filed a claim to both the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice for the full $750,000. Both parties rejected the claim under the pretense that the Ferrari was being detained by the FBI at the time of the incident.

The insurance company then set about submitting Freedom of Information Act requests for documents pertaining to the storage, transportation and handling of the Italian exotic, most of which were denied under federal exemptions or outright ignored. The company did manage to get a hold of one email that said that U.S. Assistant Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson rode with Special Agent Frederick C. Kingston on the day of the accident and that the vehicle fishtailed and slid sideways shortly after leaving the FBI storage warehouse.

Motors Insurance Corp. is now suing both the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI to release the rest of the documents pertaining to the vehicle.

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Third Party System Tracking Sex Offenders Crashes And Shuts Down – Police And Courts In 49 States Left In The Dark About Offenders Whereabouts

October 7, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – Thousands of US sex offenders, prisoners on parole and other convicts were left unmonitored after an electronic tagging system shut down because of data overload.

BI Incorporated, which runs the system, reached its data threshold – more than two billion records – on Tuesday.

This left authorities across 49 states unaware of offenders’ movement for about 12 hours.

BI increased its data storage capacity to avoid a repeat of the problem.

Prisons and other corrections agencies were blocked from getting notifications on about 16,000 people, BI Incorporated spokesman Jock Waldo said on Wednesday.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

In retrospect, we should have been able to catch this”

End Quote Jock Waldo BI Incorporated spokesman

“At 0729 Mountain Time [1429 GMT] on 5 October, BI Incorporated experienced a problem with one of its offender monitoring servers that caused this server’s automatic notification system to be temporarily disabled, resulting in delayed notifications to customers. The issue was resolved approximately 12 hours later at 1925 [0229 GMT Wednesday],” BI said in a statement.

Tracking devices continued to record movement and gather information, but corrections agencies could not immediately view the data, BI said.

In Wisconsin, local police and probation agents held about 140 sex offenders at local jails until the GPS tracking system was restored.

The offenders – about 300 in the state, most of them sex offenders – were never aware they were not being tracked, state Department of Corrections spokeswoman Linda Eggert said.

“In retrospect, we should have been able to catch this,” Mr Waldo is quoted as saying by the AP news agency.

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Hueytown Alabama Police Officers Chase Teen Motorcyclist To His Death

October 4, 2010

HUEYTOWN, ALABAMA – Hueytown police confirmed they were chasing a 19-year-old motorcyclist who died in a wreck in Bessemer this afternoon.

Police Chief Chuck Hagler said police received a call about someone driving a motorcycle recklessly and at a high rate of speed. When police spotted him around 27th Avenue and 19th Street, he was driving recklessly and had no tag, Hagler said.

Police chased him briefly but called off the pursuit in the area of U.S. Pipe and Foundry Co., Hagler said. That’s about a mile away from where the man wrecked and died.

Witnesses said the motorcyclist ran a red light and collided with a sport-utility vehicle at 18th Street North and Eighth Avenue North in Bessemer. He was thrown from the motorcycle and died on the scene.

His identity has not been released, pending notification of family.

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Chicago Heights Illinois Police Want Cash From Woman For Bogus Fees After Police Let Her Drunk Boyfriend Drive Off With 5 Year Old In Car – Crash 1 Hour Latter Killed Her Child

September 27, 2010

CHICAGO HEIGHTS, ILLINOIS – As Kathie LaFond’s son was dying in a car crash, she was under arrest at
the nearby Chicago Heights police station, where she was told to sign
forms saying her Chevy had been towed.

She would soon learn that her car was actually wrapped around a tree, her 5-year-old son dead at the scene.

Weeks after the boy’s funeral, the south suburb ordered LaFond to pay a
$550 fine for the impound that never occurred, records show.

It was an unusually aggressive take on a trend in law enforcement to
collect fees from arrests involving vehicles. And the ensuing debate
over LaFond’s fee offers another chapter in a high-profile controversy
in which Chicago Heights police let an allegedly drunken man drive
LaFond’s only child to his death.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” LaFond said. “My car was never impounded that
night. Why should I have to pay for something that took my kid’s life
away?”

The fees themselves aren’t unusual, but carry their own controversy. A
recent Tribune investigation found that more than 100 area departments
charge administrative fees — often $500 or more — for impounding
vehicles allegedly used in crimes. After a federal judge questioned the
constitutionality of some tows, a third of the suburbs softened their
laws to let friends or relatives drive cars from arrest scenes, instead
of being towed.

In those cases where friends or relatives drive cars away, no fees are charged because no tow happened.

At least, that’s what happens in the other suburbs surveyed by the Tribune.

But not in Chicago Heights.

Even though its forms say the fee is for impounding, the city says the
fee is really for the arrest. It’s considered a separate sanction for
any vehicle owner whose car is tied to specific crimes, ranging from
soliciting a prostitute to driving on a suspended license.

The goal, officials say, is to collect cash for the blue-collar suburb while keeping criminals at bay.

“It’s a way of trying to discipline people for the commissions of
wrongdoing regardless of whether the car is towed or not,” said TJ
Somer, the suburb’s corporation counsel.

To LaFond’s lawyer, Mark Horwitz, the policy seems purely about
collecting cash, not only from people never towed, but even from someone
such as LaFond, whose child died from the alleged negligence of the
department.

“The thing I find repulsive is: You have a child who is dead. You have a
mother who lost her child,” he said. “Yet you have a municipality
sending a bill out when they clearly know that car was never impounded.
It hit a tree.”

A boy’s death

LaFond, 23, was arrested early one morning in May on Chicago Heights’
Main Street for driving on a suspended license. The stop began a series
of events that led to her son’s death less than an hour later.

Her boyfriend, Cecil Conner, then 22, needed a ride home from a
party. She said she didn’t want him driving drunk. So, with no one to
baby-sit her son, Michael Langford Jr.,

she strapped him into his booster seat and drove to retrieve Conner.

On their way to drop off Conner at his Steger home, she was stopped
about 2:35 a.m. by a Chicago Heights officer for not using a turn
signal. Discovering she wasn’t properly licensed, the officer arrested
her for a crime that qualified her car to be towed to an impound lot.

The conversation that took place during that stop is now at the heart of a lawsuit LaFond filed against the suburb.

She said she begged the officer not to let Conner drive the car because
he was drunk. The suburb maintains LaFond made no such plea and the
officer had no indication Conner was drunk, so he was allowed to drive
away.

LaFond was taken away in handcuffs to the police station. That was
common procedure area-wide for handling drivers with suspended or
revoked licenses. But what happened next wasn’t.

After Conner drove off with the boy, LaFond sat in the station in her
grocery store uniform, at times handcuffed to a wooden bench. She was
there until police decided to release her on her promise to show up in
court to face the criminal charge.

It’s unclear exactly when she left, but before she could go she had to
sign a few forms, including at least one indicating her car had been
impounded, and thereby qualified for the $500 fee.

LaFond said that as she left, she heard sirens — apparently rescue crews
heading two miles south into Steger, where Conner had veered their
Cavalier into a tree.

Rescue crews found the child lifeless. Reports show that Conner
slurred his words and smelled of alcohol. A hospital lab later
determined his blood-alcohol level was 2 1/2 times the legal limit,
prompting his arrest for felony DUI charges.

An unusual policy

Although the tragedy became headline news across the region, the
impoundment forms from her arrest were treated like those of any other
case, Somer said.

LaFond wasn’t the first made to sign such forms without having a vehicle
towed. The Tribune found that during that same month, of the 152
charged impound fees, seven others hadn’t had their cars towed.

Michael Kellogg was one of them — pulled over for driving on a suspended
license. He said his wife, a licensed driver, drove the car away. He
appealed the fine to the suburb’s administrative hearing officer without
success.

“He (the hearing officer) said everybody pays for an impounded car,”
Kellogg said. “Now it’s in collections, and I have to pay it in
payments.”

That’s unlike any other town surveyed by the Tribune.

Officials elsewhere justify the fees as a way to recover police costs of
arrests that involve time-consuming tows. If there’s no tow, there’s no
fee.

Chicago Heights, however, views the $500 fee as a fine, Somer said. The tow is irrelevant. To handle the costs of processing the arrest, the suburb can tack on another $50 fee.

It’s unclear how much the town has collected from these no-tow impounds.
Comparable data was available only for May, showing about 5 percent of
the impound cases didn’t involve a tow. If the suburb averaged eight
cases a month for a year, it could collect $48,000, assuming it charged
just $500 fees.

But the $500 fees are doubled if two crimes are alleged from the same
arrest. That’s what happened to Jim Reichert, whose granddaughter’s
boyfriend was arrested in March for drunken driving and driving on a
suspended license in Reichert’s SUV.

The SUV wasn’t towed — the granddaughter drove it away — but Reichert got a bill in the mail.

The Crete man reluctantly paid the $1,000 fine, plus a $50 administrative fee.

“It sounds like a scam,” he said.

The $550 bill

On the back of an impound form LaFond signed, it said she had 15 days to
file an appeal. If not, she’d automatically be found liable for the
$500 fee.

When she didn’t respond, the suburb’s hearing officer automatically found her in default.

Somer said it was not out of malice, but merely standard procedure in
such cases. The unpaid debt, as is routine, was sent to a collection
agency. He said the suburb sympathizes with LaFond’s loss, but the law
is the law.

“Kathie LaFond, number one, went to collections because she never showed
up for the hearing she was given notice of and defended herself,” Somer
said.

LaFond’s lawyer also believes it’s not out of malice. Still, he said, it
doesn’t make it right, not only for LaFond but for others charged fees
without being towed.

“I don’t think they’re piling up on Kathie per se. I just think this is an incident where they got caught.”

LaFond said she was so eager to get out of the station that night in May
she never read what she was signing. In the aftermath of dealing with
her loss, she hadn’t read the forms since. She said she didn’t even know
the suburb was trying to collect cash from her until told this month by
the Tribune.

She is awaiting a November court date on the criminal portion of the
suspended-license arrests in Chicago Heights and an earlier one in
Olympia Fields, misdemeanors that can carry their own fines or jail
time. Conner remains jailed in Will County, awaiting trial on the felony
DUI charges.

LaFond said she has yet to get a bill demanding the $550. It’s unclear
if Conner, as a co-owner of the Cavalier, has gotten a letter either —
his lawyers did not return calls for comment. But LaFond is the only one
of the pair listed in Chicago Heights records as owing the money.

No matter what happens, she said she won’t pay any bill.

The suburb said it’s not sure what action the collection agency will
take, but it won’t drop the fine. Somer said it’s up to LaFond and her
lawyers to ask a judge to make the suburb drop it.

But Somer said that the Tribune review of its no-tow fee policy has prompted one change.

Chicago Heights will rewrite the forms to note the fee applies even to those not towed.

Appeared Here


Two Joyriding Manchester UK Police Officers End Up Crashing Through Fence Into Garden

September 4, 2010

CHESHIRE, UK – The high-powered Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution was driven across a grass verge, then across the garden of one luxury home and through the neighbour’s garden fence before ending up on its side.

Both officers, who are under investigation, were found inside the vehicle.

They had stopped the car for driving erratically around 2.15am today on Hale Road in Hale, Cheshire.

The 23-year-old driver was arrested on suspicion of drink driving and his car impounded.

Police policy is to wait for a recovery vehicle to take away the car.

The collision is now being investigated by officers from Greater Manchester Police’s (GMP) professional standards unit.

Both officers have been suspended from driving duties with immediate effect.

Chief Superintendent Mark Roberts from GMP, said: ”I can assure the local community that this incident will be rigorously investigated.

”Thankfully, no members of the public were injured. I would like to apologise to residents if this incident has caused any problems or inconvenience.”

The suspected drink driver remains in custody.

Appeared Here


All Charges Dropped Against Chicago Illinois Police Officer John Ardelean For Drunken Thanksgiving Day Wreck That Killed Two People

June 5, 2010

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Erick Lagunas’ family came to court Friday morning clinging to the slimmest of hopes.

But their 2½-year quest for justice ended in bitter tears, as the Chicago Police officer they say killed Lagunas and his friend, Miguel Flores, in a Thanksgiving Day 2007 drunken-driving crash walked out of the 26th and California courthouse a free man.

“It’s a joke — they say we can continue with a civil suit,” said Mayra Lagunas, 22, Erick Lagunas’ cousin. “But no amount of money is ever going to bring Erick back.”

Cook County prosecutors met privately with the Lagunas family Friday morning, gently telling them they had no choice but to drop the aggravated drunken-driving and reckless homicide charges against officer John Ardelean. Prosecutors said their case fell apart after Cook County Judge Thomas Gainer Jr. threw out key evidence against Ardelean in late April.

The Lagunas family couldn’t stand to be in the courtroom when the case was officially dismissed. The family — knowing what was coming — said they couldn’t bear to look at the police officer’s face.

A few moments later, Ardelean — wearing dark sunglasses and surrounded by four beefy men in casual clothing — walked briskly down the courthouse steps. Reporters barked questions at him, but he said nothing and offered no hint of his feelings.

Tom Needham, Ardelean’s attorney, said his client’s silence shouldn’t be mistaken for indifference.

“He’s always been upset and distraught and completely understanding of the emotion and anger on the other side of this case,” Needham said. “But he’s always insisted he didn’t commit a crime that night.”

Prosecutors made two attempts to prove that Ardelean did. After the two-vehicle fatal crash Nov. 22 in Roscoe Village, Ardelean was charged with misdemeanor DUI — later upgraded to a felony. But those charges were dismissed when Cook County Judge Don Panarese ruled there was “no indication” Ardelean, who was off-duty at the time, was drunk. Prosecutors reinstated charges after saying they had a lengthy surveillance videotape showing Ardelean drinking five shots and other drinks at a North Side bar shortly before the crash.

Prosecutors also suggested in pretrial hearings that police the night of the crash turned a blind eye to Ardelean’s intoxication. Among other things, he wasn’t arrested or given a Breathalyzer until seven hours after the crash. But Gainer ruled in April that the supervising officer who ultimately made the arrest didn’t have strong enough evidence to do so. Gainer’s ruling also suppressed key blood-alcohol evidence.

That ruling sparked a furious reaction, resulting in the arrest of three of Flores’ relatives after they scuffled with sheriff’s deputies.

Flores’ relatives didn’t show up Friday. Lagunas’ family said that’s because the Flores family knew how the case would end.

In a written statement, prosecutors said they’d done “extensive and in-depth” research but found there weren’t sufficient grounds to appeal Gainer’s ruling or continue with the case.

Ardelean is currently on administrative leave and has been relieved of his police powers, pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation, the Chicago Police Department said in a statement.

Appeared Here


Veteran Mississippi State Police Trooper Steve Hood Drives Off Road, Crashes, Dies

May 30, 2009

MISSISSIPPI – A Mississippi state trooper is dead following a pursuit in the northeastern part of the state.

Authorities say Master Sgt. Steve Hood’s car left the highway late Friday and hit a tree near the Crossroads Military Park.

The Highway Safety Patrol says it doesn’t know why Hood was involved in the chase, but the other vehicle has been located.

The crash occurred near the border of Lee County and Prentiss County.

Hood had been a trooper since 1982.

Appeared Here


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